Sprained Ankle Physical Therapists
Too often, people think that a sprained ankle is not a big deal — they can just rest and take care of the rehab on their own. Unfortunately, without proper sprained ankle PT from a physical therapy practice, you risk injuring your ankle again and may even end up in worse shape.
Physical therapy for a sprained ankle doesn’t take long, usually about three or four weeks. But the benefits of sprained ankle therapy are irrefutable! Your ankle not only heals properly, but you’ll walk away with important information that can save you from serious complications.
A sprained ankle is both painful and inconvenient. When the ligaments around your ankle get stretched too far or tear, you feel pain that may vary in intensity. Ligaments are the tissue that connects your bones to each other. The ligaments in your ankle help move your foot and be able to stand up straight. Physical therapy (PT) works wonders to heal sprained ankles. And as an added benefit, at Tri Physical Therapy in Brooklyn — your sprained ankle therapy therapist’s spa-like office — you reduce the risk of repeating the same injury later.
Even the most severe sprains should be treated with physical sprained ankle therapy while you’re still in some discomfort.
Because of the way ligaments are weakened or torn during a sprain, you’re at a high risk of repeating the injury if you try to get by without some retraining. Developing safer, healthier movements through ankle physical therapy exercises helps ensure that your injury doesn’t repeat or become chronic due to bad habits.
What Causes a Sprained Ankle?
Ankle sprains are caused by a sudden twist of the ankle that moves the joints out of position and tears the ligaments surrounding the ankle. A strong blow to the ankle, or simply walking on unstable ground can also lead to a sprained ankle. Wearing the wrong shoes for sports, walking, or running can be a risk factor for a sprained ankle. Most commonly, a sprained ankle occurs when landing unevenly on the foot while jumping or walking.
Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle
You usually feel pain when spraining an ankle, but you may not be sure if you actually tore a ligament or not. At the time of injury you may hear a popping or cracking sound accompanied by pain.
Some symptoms to look for are:
- Difficulty walking
- Stiffness of the ankle
- Difficulty walking or standing on the foot
If you experience any of these symptoms see an experienced physical therapist to diagnose and treat your sprained ankle.
How is a sprained ankle diagnosed?
An expert physical therapist in Brooklyn will evaluate and diagnose your twisted ankle and devise a specific treatment plan. The doctor will obtain your foot and ankle history, ask you about your past sprains, if any, and evaluate your pain level. You may need an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to establish the severity of the injury.
Ankle Sprains Grades
- Grade 1: You feel pain and have swelling, but the ligament is not torn.
- Grade 2: You experience bruising, swelling and pain when trying to stand on the foot. You have a partial ligament tear.
- Grade 3: This is a full ligament tear causing severe pain. You would have heard a pop during the sprain indicating a ligament tear. You cannot support your body weight on this foot anymore.
The First Stages of Rehab
Physical therapy for a sprained ankle begins with RICE — but not the kind you eat. Early in your PT process, your physical therapist recommends that you reduce swelling and inflammation. RICE stands for “rest, ice, compression, and elevation.”
Call your best physical therapist for instructions before you begin your physical therapy exercises for a sprained ankle. It may be wise to get an x-ray before you even treat an ankle sprain to rule out a fracture.
A broken ankle demands an entirely different round of therapeutic processes in the early stages of treatment.
Once you’ve received a definitive diagnosis and been treated successfully — whether with surgery or instructions to begin physical therapy exercises for sprained ankle right away, your personalized, one-on-one PT can begin. You’re instructed to elevate your ankle whenever possible, rest it often, wear a compression stocking and cover your ankle with an ice pack to reduce swelling.
Early Ankle Physical Therapy Rehab Exercises
If you hurt your ankle at work, you most likely have to be on limited duty until you’re fully healed. At work, place a stool under your desk so that you can keep your ankle raised. Elevate your leg on pillows at home when you relax whenever you sit or climb into bed.
The goals of physical therapy exercises for sprained ankle is to restore your range of motion and get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.
To that end, we may start with the ankle sprain massage therapy and continue with mild exercises, such as:
- From a seated position, stick your leg out and rotate your ankle gently to build range of motion.
- Roll up a towel and put it under your toes while in a seated position. Keep your knee locked and pull your toes toward your body.
- While your foot is flat against the floor, push it up against a wall for a few seconds at a time to build strength.
- Stand only on your injured leg as a way to build balance.
Stretch and Walk
After you’ve rested sufficiently after spraining your ankle, you must practice appropriate stretching while keeping your leg elevated. Walking is the next step. Your physical therapist works with you on your gait and balance to make sure how you walk is safe and healthy. At first, you may need assistive devices such as steadying bars, a walker or a cane.
Your sprained ankle may develop a mind of its own; it may decide to move in an unhealthy direction almost against your will. Your physical therapist watches closely to correct any improper techniques. To get your body back in motion, you begin by purposefully building up healthy walking habits. You march up and downstairs, on slanted ramps and on increasingly faster treadmills. To build strength in your supporting leg muscles, you may even use a stationary bike.
What Happens if You Leave a Sprained Ankle Untreated?
If you leave a rolled ankle untreated, you risk potential long-term effects such as loss of motion. You may end up with stiff ankles, meaning the ankle does not regain full motion leaving you unable to walk down stairs or point your toes. You may also end up with loose ankles, leaving you feeling unstable or wobbly. Loose ankles can also lead to degenerative arthritis in the future.
An ankle sprain may also be accompanied by a fracture that you may not even notice. Fractures can travel up the leg bone if left untreated. Furthermore, sprained ankles usually have an ongoing impact if left without treatment from an experienced ankle sprain physical therapist.
Physical Therapy for a Fractured Ankle
You typically need a couple weeks of rest before you begin physical therapy exercises for a broken ankle. During that time, your physical therapist teaches you how to use certain types of equipment, such as walkers and other assistive devices. You may even get a visit at your house to make sure it’s recovery-friendly and safe.
A broken ankle is a significantly more serious injury than a basic sprain. Fractures can travel up your shin and calf bones. Cartilage and ligaments in your ankle, foot and upper leg may be damaged. So don’t engage in rehabilitation exercises without the supervision of your doctor and physical therapist. Moving too soon can lead to serious, long-lasting complications.
Once the fracture is on its way to healing, the goal of physical therapy exercises for broken ankle to regain mobility and strength. With the help of your physical therapist, you’ll be back on your feet sooner than later. Get in touch with the sprained or broken ankle therapy pros at TRI Physical Therapy for the most effective physical therapy for ankle including manual, hands on therapy.
Evidence of Physical Therapy for Sprained Ankle
The Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy conducted a study: comparing physical therapy with at-home sprained ankle treatments. Patients (74) were randomized into each group- physical therapy with exercise and at-home treatment. They concluded that physical therapy was a greatly superior treatment for sprained ankles.